Best Carry On Backpack For Travelling Review Guide

airplane flying

In the past, carry-on luggage was only used to carry on a few personal items. With airlines now charging as much as $200 a bag, many savvy travelers are...

airplane flyingIn the past, carry-on luggage was only used to carry on a few personal items. With airlines now charging as much as $200 a bag, many savvy travelers are choosing to travel with only a carry-on bag. What about if you are traveling for a week or so, is it possible to pack all of your essentials in a carry-on bag? Absolutely, if you choose the right bag and pack it efficiently. So, which bag is the best backpack for carry-on purposes?



Below Are Some Of The Best Carry On Backpacks Available


tortuga 44 literTortuga Travel 44 Liter4.7
Osprey Farpoint TravelOsprey Farpoint 404.8
Timbuk2 UptownTimbuk2 Uptown4.6
Cabin Max OxfordCabin Max Oxford4.4
Incase Icon PackIncase Icon Pack4.6
Osprey Porter 464.7
swiss gear 1908Swiss Gear Scan Smart4.4
Jester PackThe North Face Jester4.6
xenon 2Samsonite Luggage Xenon4.4
TIMBUK2Timbuk2 Parkside4.7
high sierra feeHigh Sierra Free Wheeled4.3


TortugaTravel 44 Liter

tortuga 44 literTheTortugaTravel 44 Liter functions in a similar fashion to a suitcase. When laid down, it can be unzipped and opened up almost all the way around, so you can easily access all areas of the bag and load it up. A front loaded bag, rather than a traditional top-loaded pack, makes packing easier. ThisTortugamodel measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches, giving you a reasonable amount of space. It also features a padded hip belt that helps ensure your back and shoulders do not carry the full weight of your backpack. This bag also features a top handle, so you can carry it like a bag, a lock to securely lock both zippers in place and protect your belongings, and a mesh interior bag, perfect for holding smaller belongings, like socks or toiletries. Lastly, there is a thin pouch in the back of this model that is padded, and designed to fit electronic items like tablets or laptops measuring no more than 17 inches. This is the perfect bag for someone who wants a traditional suitcase style in a backpack.

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OspreyFarpoint40 Travel

Osprey Farpoint TravelThe OspreyFarpoint40 is the perfect carry-on backpack for those who are looking for a stylish bag with a slim profile. When you fill your carry-on up with clothing, it can begin to look bulky. This particular bag has a frame suspension built inside to help your backpack retain it’s slim and sleek shape. This is a top loading, nylon bag, like many other travel backpacks. But unlike many other styles, it comes in a variety of colors, helping you to really customize the look you are going for. This bag measures in at 14 x 21 x 15 inches and weighs three pounds. It also has a hip strap to help ensure your back and shoulders don’t carry all the weight of the bag and padded shoulder straps to ensure the pack is comfortable to wear. It has one large zipped up compartment with smaller zippered pouches and compartments, helping you to separate all of your luggage, medications, and toiletries.

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Timbuk2Uptown Travel

Timbuk2 UptownTheTimbuk2Uptown Travel is one of the most popular carry-on backpacks and is often credited with really starting the trend of making carry-on backpacks. This particular pack is an extremely versatile carry-on piece. It features a small exterior pouch where you can store your small items, such as your passport or gum andearbuds. The middle compartment is the largest compartment. It is top loading and designed so that you can fit all of your clothing comfortably into the area, including a jacket. The top compartment is extremely thin, but is designed for laptops and/or tablets with a screen size of no more than 15 inches. Lastly, there is a stretchy pouch on the side of the bag that fits a water bottle or travel cup. The bag measures  11.2 x 19.5 x 6.5 inches and weighs in at less than 2.5 pounds. The bag has a padded back and padded straps that make it comfortable to wear.

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Cabin Max Oxford50x40x20cm

Cabin Max OxfordThe Cabin Max Oxford50x40x20cmCarry On Luggage – has one of the most unique looks to it. It literally looks like a square with straps. It does not resemble the shape of a traditional backpack at all. However, this is not always a bad thing. Suitcases are often rectangular or square in shape because it allows them to hold a reasonable amount of stuff efficiently. This particular carry-on model resembles that, allowing you to pack more with this than you would in a traditional shaped backpack. It is front loading, making packing and unpacking easy. You don’t have to dig through your entire bag like you would with a top loading backpack. There are also diagonal zippers on the front of the bag that allow you to store smaller items and a compartment in the back for storing a tablet or laptop with a 15.5 inch or smaller screen. The last interesting feature about the Cabin Max Oxford Carry is that it comes in unique color combinations. There are a variety of main color and trim colors for the bag, ensuring your bag stands apart from all the others.

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Incase Icon Pack

Incase Icon PackThe Incase Icon Pack is one of the more expensive and well-built bags on the market. Incase is well known for producing high-end products that last. This particular bag measures19x13x9inches. And it has a few features that really set it apart from the competition. First, it is designed for an extremely organized person. This bag has many compartments and zippered pouches, ensuring you can separate and store a wide array of items in the perfect place in your bag. The other feature is that this bag was originally designed to be a laptop pack. As such, it offers amazing protection for the electronic devices that you are traveling with. And to show just how tech savvy this bag is, look at the hip side power pocket. It features an integrated cable port right there, allowing you to easily access portable power or sound while you are on the move. Aside from that, this is a top loading bag that has a typical backpack shape and look to it. It features padded shoulders and a sternum strap to help your chest support the weight of the bag.

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Osprey Porter Travel 46-Liter

The Osprey Porter Travel  46-Liter is considered a trekking model. It is very similar in style, shape and design to one that would be used while hiking, camping or trekking. The biggest selling feature for this front loading bag is the unique straight jacket compression system. The walls of the bag are padded with foam. Once your bag is packed, you can tighten down the two straps that encompass the bag. As you do so, the straps compress the foam and your belongings, helping to tighten everything into place. This allows you to pack a bit more in the bag, while still ensuring your bag will easily fit in an overhead bin. The bag is one of the heavier carry-on bags because of this foam, but it is still manageable at just under 3.5 pounds. The measurements are 22 x 14 x 9. The bag also has padded back straps and a waist strap to help your hips support the load of the bag. This bag also comes in brighter colors than most other bags, which is perfect for those looking to stand out.

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Swiss Gear Scan Smart SA1908

swiss gear 1908This is a versatile and very convenient model made by the manufactures of the Swiss Army Knife. It has many built in features, such as a special compartment designed especially for your smart phone or Media player. The Dual mesh pockets come in handy when carrying around water bottles of different sizes and on the go. It is manufactured for the comfort of the user with it’s enhanced padding in the back area, and extra airflow design provides for better convenience when traveling with this bag. The shoulder straps are padded and designed with comfort in mind as you go throughout the day. It is also one of the top rated carry on  bags on the market.

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The North Face Jester

Jester Pack

This is a very nice bag that has many new and updated features. One feature we liked in particular was the FlexVent straps. These straps are injection-moulded and prevent irritation after carrying it around all day. The removable help belt also is very convenient for the days when you need the extra support. The main carrying compartment is quite huge which makes it perfect for carrying binders, books, or supplies. This model also comes in different colors so it should be easy to fine one that fits your style.

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Samsonite Luggage Xenon 2

xenon 2The Samsonite Xenon 2 Backpack is the right backpack for those individuals who prefer a pack that is rugged, organized and has a unique smart look. This lightweight backpack is one of the most popular backpacks among executives and professionals. It comes in two different specifications and completely waterproof. The device has the ability to accommodate various sizes of Laptops.  The very innovative system of padding on the back provides ultimate comfort to the user and also regulates heat inside the bag. Multi functional pockets both inside and outside are just perfect for keeping other mobile devices, accessories, paper documents in perfect order.

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Timbuk2 Parkside


The Timbuk2 Parkside is a very high quality made and smart designed bag. It has many pockets for all the various devices and accessories that you carry around on a daily basis. The internal cushioned sleeves can fit most laptops up to 15 inches in size. This model is very roomy on the inside and can handle layers of material and a pair of shoes. It also has a water bottle pocket for days when you need to hydrate on the go, and a bottle opener on the strap when you need to grab a quick beverage.

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High Sierra Free Wheeled

high sierra fee

This High Sierra model isone of the best rollingcarry on backpacks for adults available. The big multi compartment design makes it convenient for those who need the extra space while on the go. Included is an internal computer sleeve designed to fit most laptops up 17 inches in size. The sleeve is completely padded and cushioned so it should serve well for someone needing a good laptop backpack protected while you go about your day to day activities. This model has it’s wheels mounted on the corners of the bag to make sure that is rolls as smoothly as possibly. It also has reflective material on the outside to help with your safety at night while handling it. If you are looking for good under seat rolling carry on luggage this should work just fine.

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Why You Should Choose A Backpack For Carry On Luggage


If you fly often, you know that hauling around a suitcase, even a small carry on sized one, isn’t always the easiest thing. You have to drag the suitcase behind you and ensure people do not trip on it. And then when it is time to board a plane, you have to find overhead space to fit the carry-on suitcase. Because of this, more people are opting to use a backpack for their carry-on, rather than a suitcase. It is easy to throw a backpack on your back and it takes up less room, making it easier to fit in an overhead bin or under your seat.

Although you might think of abackpack as something for college students, it is actually a great choice for almost any traveler, whether you are traveling for business or a family vacation. Most travel backpacks offer plenty of storage pockets to keep phones, laptops and other business essentials handy, and also work well for under seat luggage.

Backpacks are easy to carry and transport around the airport. It can be difficult to haul a large rolling suitcase around an airport. Depending upon the airport, you might have to take the time to find an elevator or haul your luggage up and down escalators. In large airports like Orlando, where you have to take a tram or people mover to another terminal, it can be a hassle to find a place to squeeze in the tram with your luggage.  Here are some other advantages of backpacks:


  • Fits easily into overhead compartments
  • Hands-free
  • Compact and versatile
  • They are some the best under seat luggage


Now that you know the benefits of using a backpack for your carry-on bag, learn what things you should when choosing a backpack for your next trip.


Why Size is An Important Factor to Consider When Looking for a Carry On Backpack For Travelling

One of the most important things to think about when choosing a backpack is what size you will need. Selecting the right carry on backpack for you can be a bit challenging. Especially since the market is suddenly becoming flooded with new styles as demand grows for this type of product. However, this does not mean that you should have to struggle to find the right backpack to use as a carry-on. One of the most important factors to consider when you are looking for a carry on backpack is the size of the backpack.

Before you even begin to shop around for one, look up the carry on size requirements for your preferred airline. Believe it or not, but many airlines have their own size restrictions in addition to the ones that TSA has put out. Once you know the size restrictions for the airlines you fly with the most, look for a backpack that fits within these size restrictions. If you fail to do this, you could wind up with a carry on backpack that is too big. The problem with this is that the airline may not allow you to carry it on the plane if it doesn’t meet their guidelines. In this case, you may have to check the bag, pay to check the bag and then wait to get your luggage. This negates all of the advantages of a carry-on in the first place. Because of this, it is extremely important that you do your homework regarding size and pay close attention to the size when you are buying your carry on backpack.

Another factor to consider as you are looking at the size of the bag is how much space you really need. If you pack light, you may get away with a bag that is slightly smaller than carry on regulations. If you pack heavy, you want to get as close to the largest size you can carry on. This helps ensure that the bag is functional for you and gives you the space that you need in one.


Why a Backpack Should Be Sufficient to Take on a Trip

If you are still on the fence about using a backpack as your carry on, it is likely because of the size of the bag. At the end of the day, your biggest concern may likely be whether a backpack can sufficiently hold all of the items that you will need to pack with you for your upcoming trip. Let’s be honest here. If you are going away for a couple of weeks and you will need clothing for different weather types, a carry on of any type may not work for you. You may need a lot more space. But for most people, a carry on, including a carry on backpack, will fit enough clothing for a few days.

Let’s break it down. A carry on backpack can fit an extra pair of shoes, a couple of pairs of pants, a few tops, socks and underwear and your toiletries, as well as your laptop or tablet. If you are a light packer or a small person, you may also be able to fit in either a lightweight sweater or a thin jacket. Keep in mind that when you are traveling, you will already be wearing a pair of shoes, a clean pair of pants and you can wear a sweater, sweatshirt or jacket on the plane. Pants are designed to be worn a couple of times before needing to be washed, so if you count the pair you are wearing plus an extra pair or two, you are good for almost a week. This gives you two pairs of shoes, plenty of pants, and the shirts you bring. For the average trip, this will be more than enough clothing.

It is also important to keep in mind that most people significantly over pack for their trips. They do not want to get stuck without something to wear. Unfortunately, most of what gets packed does not even get worn. It just takes up space in a suitcase because someone wants to have a chance of clothes in case they spill spaghetti sauce on their shirt while dining out or in case they need something fancier than they had planned on. But keep in mind that most hotels have laundry facilities inside of them, allowing you to wash any spills that happen. And you can always pick up an extra shirt while you are traveling if you absolutely need to. No one needs to over pack and using a carry on backpack keeps you to a reasonable number of items without forcing you to go without enough clothes for your trip.

How Traveling With Only a Backpack Can Save You Money

One of the biggest benefits to traveling with only a backpack is that it can save you money. When you are traveling, you may want to travel with a suitcase because you can bring more stuff with you. But almost every airline is now charging you to fly with a checked bag. And these fees are not cheap. On average, you can expect to pay $20 to $25 for your first bag, each way. That is $40 to $50 to fly round trip with a suitcase. And prices are higher for each bag thereafter. $40 to $50 can buy you a great meal or tour while you are on a trip. So why would you spend it transporting your luggage if you do not have to?

The great thing about a carry on backpack is that it is not subject to these carry on fees as long as it fits within the size regulations of carry on baggage per the airline you are flying with. This can save you a lot of money, regardless of whether  you are a frequent flier or you do not travel often. And it is expected that the price of luggage will only continue to increase, so buying a carry on backpack now and getting in on the savings can help increase your long term savings.



How Traveling With Only a Backpack Will Save You Time


Another huge advantage to traveling with only a carry on backpack is that it can save you a significant amount of time at the airport. When you arrive to the airport, you have to wait in a line if you want to check your luggage in. It does not matter if you checked in online or not. The bag has to be weighed and tagged and you have to arrive earlier just to have this done. You can bypass all of this when you use only a carry on backpack, saving you time prior to your flight.

If you checked luggage in, you then have to go to the baggage claim area after your flight. But anyone who flies often knows that it can take 15 to 30 minutes for the airline to unload all of that luggage and get it on the carousel for baggage pick-up. This leaves you standing around when you could be in a cab and on your way to check in to your hotel or exploring the new city you arrived in. This won’t be a concern ever again when you travel with only a carry-on backpack.

The last way traveling with only a backpack can save you time is because you do not have to deal with lost luggage. It is estimated that almost 2 million bags are misplaced every year. The baggage may have beenrouted to the wrong destination,or it may be lost. Unfortunately, when this happens you have to fill out forms and spend time calling the airline to track down your luggage. When you use a carry on backpack, your backpack stays with you, so there is no fear of it getting lost or of you having your time wasted because of it.


Why Traveling With Less is Better

When you travel, you may be used to flying with a lot of your belongings. But when you travel with a lot, you are exposing yourself to having your belongings stolen or lost. As a general rule of thumb, the less you travel with, the better. And a huge advantage to traveling with a carry-on backpack is that you don’t have to worry about your items getting stolen or lost. You have them with you on the plane so don’t have to worry about theft by airline employees or those who steal luggage off a luggage carousel. And because you have less belongings, maids and hotel staff are less likely to rummage through all your stuff and help themselves. The less you carry, the less risk you have of losing your belongings or having them stolen.

Why Using Public Transportation With a Backpack is Easier Than Luggage

Another advantage to using a backpack as a carry-on instead of using regular luggage is that it makes it easier should you need to use public transportation to get to or from the airport. Many states will not allow you to bring full-sized suitcases on a bus with you, because they are a hazard. They block the aisles, can trip people and can take up space that other people need. And if you are in a city that allows luggage on public transportation, maneuvering suitcases through crowded areas, onto the stairs of a bus or subway, and finding a seat with a suitcase in tow is not easy. Traveling with just a backpack on your back makes the entire situation easier to manage.


Why it Takes Less Time to Pack When You’re Moving From Place to Place With Just a Backpack

The last benefit to traveling with just a backpack is that it makes it easier to move if you are going from place to place. When you travel, you may change hotels as you go from city to city or town to town. Unloading and then loading up a suitcase can be a lot to do every couple days. When you travel with just a backpack, you have a lot less belongings with you and that makes the entire process of packing and unpacking a lot easier and faster. If you plan on moving from one place to another on your trip, definitely consider minimizing the amount you bring with you by carrying it all in just a carry on backpack



Other Things To Consider When Choosing A Carry On Backpack


  • Multiple Compartments

Multiple compartments make it easy to store and organize your belongings. Separate compartments also keep you from having to search around in your bag for things, saving you both time and hassle. Twin compartments are great as you can use the second space for stashing your muddy shoes or your wet beach towel.


  • Lockable Zippers

When selecting a backpack, make sure that you choose one that has dual zippers that can be locked together. Lockable zippers keep your belongings safe and secure. This keeps thieves from stealing your things and also keeps other travelers from putting things in your backpack. If you want, you can purchase small padlocks to further deter thieves.


  • Internal Frame

Make sure that you choose a backpack that has an internal frame and support rods. External frame backpacks are clunky and heavier. Choose a lightweight slim frame to make it easy to move around with your pack.


  • Padded Shoulder and Hip Straps

Padded shoulder straps are a must. The pads will reduce pressure on your shoulders and make carrying your backpack a lot more comfortable. They will also help reduce the strain to your lower back. A chest strap can also be helpful at preventing the weight of your pack from cutting into your shoulders. You will also want padded hip straps as a lot of the weight is placed on the hips. Choose a backpack that has thick, adjustable padding.


There are many benefits and advantages to using a carry on backpack for your next trip instead of a traditional suitcase. Taking the time to learn about these benefits will help you to decide if carrying a backpack is right for you. If it is, the right backpack makes all the difference. Read our mini reviews to help you find the right backpack carry on for your next trip.

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